Natural Allies Chennai

‘A small dent in consumerism’

Niraj Bhatt, researcher in environment and climate change at CAG, displays the citrus peels and citrus cleaner solution at the CAG office in Alwarpet.   | Photo Credit: Prince Frederick

At Kuppai Thiruvizha 6 at Anna Nagar Tower Park on August 25, when Niraj Bhatt finished a presentation on how to make an organic citrus cleaner at home, he was almost tempted to do the presentation all over again, just to make sure the central point was punctuated with the “extra-bold font” of pointed emphasis.

Post-presentation, there was a flurry of curious questions. One of them — “Are you going to market the citrus-peels cleaner?” — left him disappointed.

One-and-a-half years ago, encouraged by do-it-yourself citrus-cleaner projects he encountered on various platforms, Niraj started making his own citrus cleaners with discarded citrus peels and a few other organic ingredients.

Also read | Cleaning the ‘citrus way’, explained by Niraj Bhatt

Researcher in environment and climate action at Citizen consumer and civic Action Group (CAG), Niraj would slowly bring this personal project out of his house-cleaning kit and into the view of public attention, to share it with others.

It would be a sustainability exercise engineered to make a small dent in consumerism, he reasoned. It would illustrate how people can dip into nature’s bounty and work their way towards self-sufficiency in certain areas of their lives. They could start with the dishes in their kitchen sink, clothes in the laundry basket.

“The citrus-cleaner demonstration is a regular activity on the Kuppai Matters platform and is actively promoted by CAG as a small yet refreshing vignette of sustainable living,” says Niraj.

Niraj believes by making such small changes in everyday life, one would be forced to look at nature differently. It could encourage people to have a lemon tree, or any of the other citrus trees that grow easily in their clime.

Niraj uses lemon peels and peels of locally-available oranges.

The realisation that certain trees are more useful than generally believed would make it easier to get people to grow them in their backyard.

A couple of decades ago, besides lemon trees, many home gardens would sport the citron tree, the “Bitter Orange” known as “narthangai” in Tamil in a reference to its unripe fruit.

“Narthangai would be a staple of south-Indian cooking; the unripe fruit would be used along with the rind. Narthangai pickles are also popular. The narthangai peels are as good as the peels of any other citrus fruit,” says D. Narasimhan, member, Tamil Nadu Biodiversity Board.

Now, Narathagai trees are not as common in private gardens in the city as before, and thanks to Niraj, there is a new reason to bring them back to your backyard.

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Printable version | Mar 6, 2021 2:05:08 AM |

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